Archery Road site set to get green light

Old Hastings College site at Archery Road
Old Hastings College site at Archery Road

CONTROVERSIAL plans to build 156 new homes on the former Hastings Arts and Technology College site is set to get the green light despite 618 letters and four petitions of objection.

Gladedale Estates wants to convert a grade II listed terrace building to create 24 residential units at the site in Archery Road.

They also want to demolish all other structures and erect 131 residential units, with cycle and car parking space with new vehicle access from Archery Road.

It is one of the most controversial planning issues the authority has dealt with in recent years.

A report to Wednesday’s committee meeting, states the development could affect the heritage of the listed former art block and its setting as well as the setting of a number of listed buildings around the boundaries of the development site such as The Mount and Highland Gardens.

There will also be impact on the conservation area within which it lies and the setting of St Leonards Gardens which is a Registered Historic Park and a designated heritage asset.

A report by planning officer Karen Phillips states: “Although a contemporary design, the scheme is considered to fit into the surrounding area well and will not compromise the appearance of the conservation area in which it sits.

“The scheme has evolved and been amended over the last three years. The resultant scheme is considered to be a good mix of accommodation, providing 20 per cent affordable homes and is acceptable from a highways, conservation and ecology position. I consider the scheme is now acceptable and therefore recommend approval.”

Trish Evans from Save the Archery Ground campaign group said it was in favour of development as long as it is sympathetic to the conservation area.

She said: “It is the single most important planning issue since the development of the land in the early 19th Century.

“If the plan goes ahead any pretence at conservation of the unique Burtons St Leonards scheme, with its historically important buildings and splendid vistas, will be lost forever.

“We are in favour of development and would like the site developed with housing that is compatible with the area.

“We do not object to the suggested density and we welcome affordable housing. But we want a scheme that recognises the unique environment.

“In the words of the new planning National Planning Policy Framework, we want housing that uses high quality design.

“The framework states; Local planning authorities should take account of the desirability of new development making a positive contribution to local character and distinctiveness.”

The Conservative party is calling for a consultation process before any building work goes ahead.

Local leader Cllr Rob Cooke has called on the council to hold off making any decision until further consultation is held with local residents.

And MP Amber Rudd is now asking for the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to scrutinise the bid.

She said: “One of the main objectives of the Localism Act 2011 was to put power in the hands of local communities to shape the places in which they live. I do not feel that this has happened.”